Saturday, July 29, 2006


Went down to beautiful downtown Plant City today. It's a rural town gone big time on the way out of Tampa towards the Worlds of Disney, Sea and MGM. I had a special errand. My Other Chile, Darla Nunnery has a nasty case of mononucleosis contracted when she was at a world folk and alternative music fest in Germany last month. Kids shared food to save money. She didn't even get to kiss to get it.

So. I took her chicken soup, mega vites, and brought along my 'bible' - an encylopedia of alternative healing that gives you treatments from the heroic/allopathic cut-it-off-or-out, to the parsley sprout cures. Spent some time on the Net searching for mono and the treatment. There IS none. No treatment or cure - just bed rest and time.

My healing bible said that certain nutrients and vitamins are important in the care and feeding of mono. She said she wanted to go with me to the yarb store. I put her in the car with a pillow against her spleen and took off for Sother's Herbs, our little country health shop. Sother's was closed. I asked if she could make it to Brandon, another bedroom community for urban Tampa Bay, and she said she could.

We visited Carrot Country/GNC and I went in and bought Spiro Tein, Kyo-Green drink, vites A, E, C, and B complex, Pau D'Arco tea, garlic pills, and prolytic digestive enzymes as the book suggested. By this time she was crying. It was just too much for her and I felt like ass-kicking myself for taking her out of the house at all. She was in pain and kitten weak. Got her home, fixed up a bedside table and all the goodies on it, fluffed around her pillows, put on her socks, got her a cup of Pau D'Arco, and we set about charting all her stuff and when she needed to take them. Ran some errands for her and came home.

At my home exit off of I-4 a man held a 'homeless, need help' sign. There's lots of them around Florida. They're here for the weather. That's sarcasm. I scraped a huge wad of change from my purse and handed it over. I'm notorious for running around town with no bills and just change and a debit card in my purse. The day before, I did the same thing for another man next to the supermarket where I'd run in to get my prescriptions and Darla's soup. His sign said, 'injured, need help'. He cried when I handed over the change to him and I apologized for not having any bills.

The stock personnel gave him a hard time for going into the bathroom. I walked over and started talking to him, called him 'sweetie' and the little yuppie shits backed off. I cashed a check when I paid for my stuff and handed him a bill when I came out. He cried again.

A woman watched me give him money both on the way in and the way out. "I wouldn't give them ANYthing! He's just going to go buy drugs or alcohol with it", she says.

"If I was out here on the streets, I'd be carrying around vodka martinis in an I.V. drip", I answered.

"They shouldn't be out bothering people like that. The store should do something with them," she shot back.

"Yes. Let's let Sweetbays Supermarket put them on trains and send them to camps like Auchwitz. We won't have to look at them and have our conscience vapor lock that way." She stomped off, nose in air.

I don't like this about US. I don't like that we walk right by people that may not have little or any choice about their circumstances as homeless. If we don't make eye contact, we don't have to do anything about it. I don't care for the way cities pass ordinances against feeding the homeless in parks or public places like Las Vegas and Chicago, and against them 'loitering', or about moving them out of the city and away from the damn few services that provide some assistance.

See. I was homeless for a blessedly brief four months. While my circumstances were luxurious compared to what the majority of America's homeless go through daily, I didn't like sleeping on the floor with a blanket as a mattress and a thin sheet to cover me. I didn't like feeling like I was an intrusion and a burden on the good people who were kind enough to shelter us at night. I didn't like that I couldn't do any better for my son. I didn't like the way people treated me and curled their lips when any hint of my circumstances came out like having no permanent address to enroll him in school.

I was looked on as lazy, dirty, shiftless. Must've done some crime, something terribly wrong to be where I was. They asked me, 'What did you do to lose your home?" It was MY fault, see. Didn't go into detail with those who asked. I became homeless not from a drug habit or alcohol abuse or prostitution or being kicked out of a mental institution, but because of a divorce, a father who refused to pay a piddling amount of child support for five years, being laid off from a job, and illness. Things that can happen to a lot of good people made me homeless.

I got up off of that floor and worked every single day and then some to get enough money to move me and my son into a dingy little 18 foot trailer with doors that would not lock, and rats - and once, a snake - that came up through the six inch hole in the floor in front of the toilet and filth in a layer in all the cabinets and one tiny bedroom. I still slept on the floor with my son behind me so that I could keep the rats from getting to him and biting. We couldn't afford beds just then. I scrubbed that place with bleach inside and out. It was still dirty.

The landlord proclaimed his good Christian standing and preached at me for my pagan ways and lack of finding Jesus (I never knew he was lost) while charging me $380.00 for rent, refusing to repair the hole in the floor or the doors or the leaking sink and faulty gas stove or the window that let the rain flood in and told me he needed me to pay cash since he didn't want the IRS knowing that he owned all those trailers where he put us poor people. He threatened to remove the doors from the hinges if I put the rent in escrow or used the rent money to make those and other much needed repairs despite the Florida laws covering such things that said I could. I continued to work every single day until I bought us this little Cracker house I call Dog Patch.

Those were awful times. I'm not proud of getting there. I AM proud of getting out. But I remember the mind numbing circumstances, the feelings of helplessness, the embarrassment. I started tithing to the homeless I met on the streets while I was homeless. I understood. That's why my tithing goes to the homeless and not to other not-so-uppity feeling charities now.

I figure the A list charities already have a fan base. It may make some view my tithing practices askance as less socially acceptable than the 10 percent to the church, or payroll deductions for big name organizations, but I feel I go direct to source here. The money is used for shoes, food, and yes, sometimes booze or drugs instead of adding pews or a stained glass window or a missionary program to make more Christians to rent more trailers to other poor people. I don't give a damn. I'd rather cut out the middle man. I also don't need my name in the papers when I do.

I don't tell when and what I give because I'd have been cussed at for giving out when I had times of very little. I also don't think one should toot about giving. I'm telling this time because I want all of us to think of our own laws of tithing, why we do it, and examine our thoughts about tithes like the woman who cast aspersions on my giving. I feel that I am blessed beyond many mortals with my friends, home, gifts, and life. I need to put something back into the Universe to continue having the Cosmic Pump primed. Tithing should be done humbly is my take - not to get your name on a bench, although I applaud people who donate building wings of hospitals or a new business school to their alma mater. It's what they can easily afford to do. Tithing doesn't even have to involve your money, but can be your time. I also don't believe that it has to be a certain set percent of your income and that other drivel about it being an obligation. My belief is that we tithe selfishly - for ourselves - for whatever reason.

Studies show that the fastest growing segment of the homeless are families with children. Studies also show that the not-very-well-off give more deeply than do the wealthy. I'm sure there's a parable here about dollar bills, heaven, needles, and camels. I also don't feel that you need to associate it with a sense of being holy or upright. Nor do I feel that it needs to be an obligation. I do think it's something worth weighing. I'm not telling you how to give or what to give. I don't care even if you don't give a pickle or a sou. I'm not proselytizing. What I want you to think about is why you give when you do. What do you feel about giving. Why do you do it.

And I don't want you to feel guilty about this post if you do not tithe or give in your own way. Instead, examine the guilt and ask where it came from and who it belongs to.

There's a painting of one of the recorded homeless families and their little dude born out on the streets in humble digs that I will enter here for this post when Blogger lets me upload.

Dina Kerik

1 comment:

Pat said...

You are a passionate, sensitive, giving woman. It is a treasure and a blessing to have you in my life. Thanks for sharing your stories of life. Pat